I knew you were half esper and being made to suffer through horrible experiments... Yet I did nothing. I'm no better than Kefka.
- —Leo to Terra Branford
General Leo Cristophe is a temporary playable character in Final Fantasy VI. He is a noble and honorable man who fights for what he believes in. General Leo is the finest swordsman in the Gestahlian Empire, and one of Emperor Gestahl's most trusted men. He prefers negotiation over combat, in contrast to Kefka Palazzo.
General Leo wears a green tailcoat. In his concept art he wears a lighter high-collared green and yellow tailcoat. He has a blond Mohawk hairstyle. Leo's skin color is a topic of debate as his skin is dark in Yoshitaka Amano's artwork and in his menu portrait, as well as having facial features of a dark-skinned man, while his sprite is white. His sprite being white-skinned may be due to color palette limitations within the game's code. In the mobile version the field sprite has darker skin.
Leo is a strong, upstanding, moral man with a strong sense of compassion and honor. The men of the Empire revere him as an ideal warrior and are proud to serve him. He is slow to waste human life on both sides of a battle, and is loyal to Emperor Gestahl. These qualities place him at odds with Kefka, who has no regard for life or morality, and is utterly brutal in his tactics. Leo treats Kefka with respect, but is aware of his behavior and warns him not to act rashly when Leo must leave the Siege of Doma in his hands. The one time he gets angry with Kefka is in Thamasa, where he attempts to threaten Kefka (in the GBA version, he tells Kefka he's insane). It is unknown why a man like Leo would serve the Empire in conquering the world, but given he was born in Vector, it is likely out of a sense of duty and honor to his homeland.
General Leo was born in Vector, capital of the Empire. He was raised as a soldier and rose through the ranks. He was highly respected in the Empire for his honor and courage, unlike Kefka. Leo was one of the few soldiers who refused a Magitek infusion.
Before the Occupation of South Figaro, the daughter of the rich man's house, says that her father has important people coming over for dinner all the time, even General Leo.
When Sabin Rene Figaro and Shadow arrive at the Imperial Camp near Doma Castle, Leo's honorable qualities are brought to light when he tells an Imperial Trooper they must delay their attack to minimize casualties, and advises the trooper he should remember his family and not be so eager to die in battle. Although Sabin and Shadow are hiding and do not meet him, Sabin is impressed with Leo's principles. Kefka Palazzo is also at camp, and though Leo orders him not to poison Doma, Kefka does so as soon as Leo is called away.
When the Returners join a banquet with Gestahl in the Imperial Palace, Gestahl asks Leo to accompany Terra Branford and Locke Cole on a mission of goodwill to the espers. En route Leo has a heart-to-heart talk with Terra, who is anxious about her humanity and worries she cannot feel love. Leo assures it's the result of youth rather than her esper nature, and reveals his guilt over his complicity in the Empire's cruel treatment of her. On their arrival, he dispatches Locke, Terra, and Shadow to search for the espers, while he and Celes Chere search on their own.
After Locke and Terra locate the espers, who are led by Yura, they return to Thamasa and meet with Leo. Although the espers and Leo negotiate a truce, Kefka intervenes and incapacitates Leo's soldiers, including Celes, Terra and Locke. Telling Leo this was ordered by Gestahl, Kefka kills the espers and takes their magicite, then orders his bodyguards to burn the village.
Leo defeats Kefka, but Kefka conjures an image of Gestahl who informs Leo he ordered the attack on Thamasa and that he and Kefka had manipulated Leo into gathering the espers for them. Kefka reveals what Leo fought was another illusion, and kills Leo. He taunts Leo by saying that he, Kefka, will tell Gestahl he "had to dispose of a traitor." The Returners lay Leo to rest at a grave in Thamasa.
Besides Celes, Leo is the only Imperial in high command to show a sense of honor and decency, and many of the Returners hold him in high regard. Sabin remarks "he could be my friend, if he weren't my enemy." When meeting with Cyan Garamonde in Vector, he apologizes for failing to stop Kefka from poisoning the citizens in Doma, Cyan's kingdom. Cyan in turn, when he hears Leo was slain, considers it a waste of a fine soldier.
Leo's given job is General. Leo's stats are good all around. His equipment is set, as he is a temporary party member. He equips the Crystal Sword, the Aegis Shield, and the Golden Helmet and Armor. He comes with a Master's Scroll and a Gigas Glove. Leo's special ability is Shock, which deals non-elemental magic damage to all opponents. Gau can access this ability by using the Yojimbo Rage, and its Spell Power is 128, and it cannot be dodged. Due to the Master's Scroll, Leo attacks four times when choosing the Attack command.
Leo has sprites for spellcasting, though it is impossible to see these without hacking as Leo doesn't know and cannot learn magic. Like all guest characters, he cannot equip magicite or earn Magic AP.
Leo appears with two Fire-elemental cards. Both cards feature artwork by Yoshitaka Amano.
Leo is Latin for "lion". It is a shorten form of the male given name "Leonardo". Christophe is the French form of Christopher, a name derived from the Ancient Greek Christóphoros, or "Christ-bearing."
- General Leo was the focus of many rumors during the game's initial release as to how to resurrect Leo in the World of Ruin. There is no method by which he can be resurrected other than modifying the game's code, although by using the Airship glitch it is possible to use General Leo outside of areas where he was intended to be used in the World of Balance.
- In the Dawn of Souls and subsequent remakes of the original Final Fantasy, Leo is one of the automatic names the player can choose for the Warrior job.
- The conversation between Leo and Terra influences her decisions later. In the final part of the game, when the players talks to Terra in the Falcon to switch party members, she says : "General Leo, I think I understand what you were trying to say...".
- During the scene in Thamasa Kefka says that Leo was "always, always, ALWAYS such a Goody Two-Shoes!," a reference to a fairy tale storybook character.